Home > Marketing, real-time communication, Social media, Word-of-mouth > Handling customer complaints: Not always fun, but usually rewarding

Handling customer complaints: Not always fun, but usually rewarding


This is not one of the negative experiences that I encounter in social media: Fishing on Grand Lake St. Marys in Ohio! However, when you manage social media strategies, you sometimes need to respond to frustrations and complaints aired by your target audiences.

It’s truly a blessing to know so many people who manage social media channels for organizations. Collectively, we can share best practices and reaffirm what we know to be true. That happens occasionally when someone encounters frustrations, complaints or other negative sentiment on their organization’s social media channels.

Sometimes, instincts will tell us to just delete the comments. In fact, outsiders without a knowledge of how social media or public relations works may instruct us to do just that. However, best practice tells us that this is an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. By being responsive, acknowledging the concern in a reply, and taking the issue offline for resolution, we are showing viewers that we really are listing and do care. In fact, the complainer will often come back with a reply expressing surprise at the responsiveness and thanking you — in public, for all to see. It’s a powerful word-of-mouth practice.

If you just delete the comment, you are demonstrating that you don’t care… that you’ve got something to hide… that you’re running from the issue. The person will vent their frustration elsewhere: Most likely to their friends and family, both online and in-person. They may escalate the matter — by contacting the media, setting up a Facebook group, circulating a change.org petition, etc.

All because you didn’t acknowledge the concern and take it off-line for resolution.

eMarketer recently reported that most people who manage social media sites respond within a day. In fact, many take action within an hour.

To tell the truth, it’s not always the most-fun thing to do — handling a complaint. But it can bring the biggest rewards. And there is a sense of satisfaction that you helped someone who was frustrated or not happy with the service they were getting; that you made things better for them.



  1. March 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Great post. Several companies just resort to taking negative posts down instead of using it as an opportunity to show consumers how they handle an issue. As you said, often times, the customer posting a negative comment will be surprised and grateful for a response. Taking a comment down will simply cause outrage and/or show that the brand doesn’t care about the customer. The whole point of brands being on social media is to humanize the brand and interact with customers. If brands aren’t going to do that, they’re really just taking up space.

    • mikeboehmer57
      March 16, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Thank you! Very good point about humanizing the brand. Some just view this as an advertising channel, a venue for pushing messages. It’s social… a forum for conversation and interaction!

      • March 16, 2014 at 5:31 pm

        Exactly! Not to mention you meet awesome people. The networking capabilities are endless. Where else can you network with someone is Slovakia, Australia, and Canada in the same day?

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